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Managing your bladder and bowel problems so you can still enjoy intimacy

There are ways of managing your bladder and bowel problems so you can still enjoy intimacy with your partner. By making some small changes you may find you can easily overcome your concerns, but don't forget there is professional help available if you need it.

  • Discuss your concerns with your partner.
  • Empty the bladder and/or bowel immediately prior to intimacy. 
  • Include hygiene care as part of foreplay.
  • Be prepared by protecting the bed, and have towels and washcloths ready.
  • Remove catheter or leave in if preferred. Females can tape the catheter to the thigh or abdomen.
  • Drainage bag - you can cover the bag, place it out of sight, or spigot (seal off) the catheter. 
  • Use a side-lying sexual position to prevent bladder spasm.
  • Reduce odour by preventing and treating urinary tract infections, following adequate hygiene, maintaining a closed drainage system and using appropriate cleaners for bags (if in-dwelling catheter).
  • Talk to your doctor about a sensible reduction of fluids prior to intimacy, including alcohol, caffeine and cola drinks.
  • Find out about the appropriate treatment for spasms and pain. If you experience hypersensitivity try an ice pack on the area prior to intimacy.
  • Medications - check with your doctor if any of your medications have side-effects such as reduced libido or sexual function, or if medication has incontinence as a side effect.
  • Seek a referral for professional help for your relationship concerns, sexual issues or depression.

If you are unsure about which health professional to see please contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66. The National Continence Helpline is staffed by a team of Continence Nurse Advisors who offer free information, advice and support and can provide you with a wide range of information resources.